Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Playoffs begin as locals all hit road

Leader sports editor

Five local teams qualified for their respective football playoffs, and four hit the road this week for first-round games as lower-seeded visitors. The Cabot Panthers finished 10-0 and earned a first-round bye in the Class 7A playoffs.

Beebe is the highest seed of all the local teams playing this week. The Badgers take a three seed from the 5A-Central into Greenbrier, where it will play a rematch of its week-one victory over the 5A-West second-seeded Panthers.

The Badgers beat Greenbrier 41-27 in a Kickoff Classic game at War Memorial Stadium, but many people now believe the Panthers will be the one to advance to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

The Badgers (5-4) are a different team than the third-ranked squad that handled Greenbrier with relative ease in early September. The very next week, starting halfback and safety Jo’Vaughn Wyrick suffered a season-ending broken leg against Lonoke. Wyrick rushed for 213 yards in the win over Greenbrier. Since then, Beebe has lost four other players for the season, including three other starters.

After losing Wyrick, the Badgers lost starting quarterback Justin Burlison for the Vilonia game, and lost that game 28-18. In the conference opener, the second- and third- string quarterbacks were injured, one for the season, in a 14-13 loss to McClellan. Burlison returned for the Jacksonville game in week five, but suffered a season-ending head injuryin the second quarter of that game. Beebe still pulled out a 13-12 win, but then lost 49-13 to Pulaski Academy, and was sitting at 2-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play after six games.

Shannon says the biggest key to the team’s turnaround has been leadership, particularly from the senior class.

“These guys just keep coming to work every day. When an underclassman messes something up, it’s been correction and encouragement instead of finger pointing and saying, you know, ‘it’s my senior year and you’re messing it up.’ I couldn’t be more proud of my seniors than I already am.”


Sylvan Hills has a big test as it takes on the No. 2 ranked Warriors and their All-State Camden-Fairview transfer Damarea Crockett.

Sylvan Hills once held the state’s high scoring average, but that now belongs to LRCA. The 10-0 Warriors average 50.3 points per game and have not been held below 40 points all season. They’ve given up at least three touchdowns in six of their 10 games. Sylvan Hills averaged 57 points per game through five games, but have averaged 25.8 since then.


Lonoke (5-5) looks like an underdog when comparing its record to the 8-1 Pirates, but this could be a close game. The 4A-3 is not a powerhouse conference, and Gosnell’s loss to league champ Pocahontas was a 40-0 blowout.

Pocahontas opened the season with a 64-39 win over Riverview, who Lonoke beat 38-21 in last week’s regular-season finale.


Carlisle’s opponent enters the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. The Hackett Hornets have not lost since a 22-16 defeat to 2A-4 champion Hector in week two.

Hackett has played Carlisle’s conference mate Palestine-Wheatley.

The week after Carlisle went to PWHS and won 27-26, The Patriots traveled to Hackett and lost 46-26.